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Take a look at these stats…

Player

PA

BA

HR

DOUBLES

RBI

Walks

A

27

.324

1

2

7

3

B

28

.423

3

3

6

2

C

26

.435

1

1

6

3

Players A, B, and C are all vying for a spot as the opening day first baseman. Each candidate has come out in the early weeks of exhibition games and has shown their offensive prowess. With the early injuries with Jed Lowrie (left tightness in the knee) and Todd Frazier (injured left-oblique), the opportunity for the corner infield, specifically first base, is open for the taken. Let’s examine each player and make a case of why they should and why they shouldn’t get the opening day nod.

Player A: J.D. Davis

PA

BA

HR

DOUBLES

RBI

Walks

37

.324

1

2

7

3

jd davis.jpg
Joe Robbins: Getty Images
Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 5.34.24 PM.png
Fangraphs

Pros

J.D. Davis has always shown the ability to hit in the minor leagues, as profiled in an earlier article I wrote as a player to watch in camp. Hitting in spring isn’t anything new for Davis, as he batted .365 in 2017 and .385 in 2018 with Houston’s MLB camp. Also, Davis is a career .292 hitter with 105 home runs across five minor league seasons. The benefit with Davis, as opposed to the other candidates, is that he is versatile and can play the opposite corner at third, and both corner outfield positions. Davis seems relaxed at the plate, has shown good balance and timing with consistently driving the ball up the middle this spring. This was most evident with a homerun to dead center off of Miami’s Adam Conley. His swing is level, showing signs of a .300 type caliber hitter. Davis has an opportunity with the Mets, and Brodie Van Wagenen certainly will want to give him a chance with the assets the Mets parted with in the five-player trade.

Cons

Davis has yet to show that he can hit Major League quality pitching, only posting a .194 batting average with a dismal .581 OPS. Although he is having success this spring training, Fangraphs lists the quality of pitching he is seeing is ranked at 7.4 (10 = MLB 8=AAA 7=AA 5=high A), meaning he only sees about AA to AAA pitching quality. This quality of pitching Davis has shown the ability to hit within the minors consistently. Some scouts question his ability to catch up to big-league velocity to be a contributing factor offensively in the majors. Although Davis can be a versatile player for the Mets, he isn’t a plus defender at any of these positions.

Prediction

I think the Mets are best suited to carry Davis with the team up North, especially with the injuries of Lowrie and Fraizer. He brings a plus-power bat, especially against lefties and can play the corners. Van Wagenen likes the player, as he was sought out by this front office and I believe they are excited about his potential in possibly becoming their version of Justin Turner. This meaning, gaining a player another team devalued, which then becomes a highly productive one on a new organization. I see the Mets lineup being most potent on opening day with Davis, not at first, but at third with McNeil playing in the outfield.

Player B: Pete Alonso

PA

BA

HR

DOUBLES

RBI

Walks

Pete Alonso

28

 .423 3 3 6 2
pete.jpg
Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 5.32.02 PM.png
Fangraphs

Pros

Pete Alonso is a presence at the plate, as I wrote in my last blog. He has continued his torrent hitting in spring training, already amounting 11 hits in 28 plate appearances, with 6 of those hits being for extra bases. The thing to like with Alonso is that he isn’t your typical all or nothing type of power hitter, that we’ve seen with former first basemen, such as Lucas Duda and Jay Bruce. Alonso has shown the ability to hit for average, as he hit .285 last year and is a career .290 hitter in the minors. He would add to the Met’s shift in thinking with acquiring and implementing players with higher contact rates. A different approach from the Sandy Alderson tenure. Alonso’s promise as a ballplayer is exciting and could profile as a cornerstone piece for this Mets team for a long time, and Van Wagenen reiterated on March 9th, 2019 that he wants to carry the best 25 guys up North for Opening Day.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 5.15.40 PM.png
Mike Puma: NY Post

Cons

With Van Wagenen consistently emphasizing that he wants to bring up the best 25 players up north, it would almost be malpractice as a front office to do so. This type of thinking has nothing to do with Alonso’s talent, but with a service-time related rule, where the Mets would lose a year of service time if Alonso were to be on the team on opening day. If the Mets send down Alonso for about two weeks, they will garner another year of his service. If Alonso ends up being the player Mets fans hope he is; they would look back and wish Van Wagenen kept him down. As Andy Martino of SNY has stated, if you don’t think your team can handle not having Alonso on the roster for two weeks, your team has a lot of other problems to address.

Prediction

I honestly believe Van Wagenen is a players’ General Manager, keeping his agent mindset. Therefore, I think Alonso will be in the opening day line-up, as the injuries with Lowrie and Fraizer allow for the Mets to assert that he is a necessary commodity on the big-league club. Also, Van Wagenen has identified Alonso as a special player to this organization. One of his first assignments as General Manager was flying out to the Arizona Fall League to watch Alonso play and to take him out to dinner to detail his plans for the team.

Player C: Dominic Smith 

PA

BA

HR

DOUBLES

RBI

Walks

Dominic Smith

26

.435

1

1

6

3

MLB: MAR 01 Spring Training - Mets at Tigers
Icon Sportswire: Getty Images
Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 5.32.16 PM.png
Fangraphs

Pros

Dominic Smith has had a cup of coffee in the Major Leagues the past two seasons amounting 332 plate appearances, and fans have been quick to move on from Smith. I’m here to say don’t. Smith is younger than highly-touted prospect Pete Alonso and has been equally as impressive as Alonso this spring. The 23-year-old has a career .296 average, showing good contact to all fields. Although Alonso possesses a better power outage than Smith, Smith is the better defender between the two, which the Mets are seeking to get better defensively. Smith has come into camp, again, in tremendous shape. He has shown the ability to maintain the weight off. Smith also has found a solution to some of the sleep apnea issues that was hampering his sleep last year, which could be tied to his ineffectiveness in the big leagues last year. The results have shown this spring.

Cons

Although Smith has been doing well this spring, he has yet to show it in the big leagues in his chances, which is why Alonso has jumped over him in the depth chart. So much so, that the Mets can even look to trade Smith if he builds himself up enough value with his play. The Mets played Smith in the corner outfield spots last year when he was up, and it didn’t fare too well. Smith was worth -5 defensive runs saved in left field and didn’t look comfortable in the position. Smith is much better suited for 1st base, as he is the Mets best option defensively at first. This lack of versatility hurts Smith, in which the Mets have a lot of options at first, and will be even more crowded once Fraizer and Lowrie come back into the mix.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 5.15.50 PM
Deesha Thosar: NY Daily New

Prediction

I believe the Mets best plan for opening day is bringing up Smith with the team as a lefty option off the bench. The Mets could platoon Alonso and Smith at first while Lowrie and Fraizer work their way back from injuries. If Alonso continues to show he can hit at the major league level and is playing an adequate first base, the Mets can accelerate exploring the idea of trading Smith. If not, the Mets have a good problem to have and added depth, which was an emphasis of the entire offseason.

Projection of the 25-Man Roster

Line-Up

  1. Brandon Nimmo CF
  2. Michael Conforto RF
  3. Robinson Cano 2B
  4. Wilson Ramos C
  5. Pete Alonso 1B
  6. J.D. Davis 3B
  7. Jeff McNeil LF
  8. Amed Rosario SS

Rotation

Jacob DeGrom / Noah Syndergaard / Zack Wheeler / Steven Matz / Jason Vargas

Bench

–  Juan Lagares / Dominic Smith / Rajai Davis / Devin Mesoraco / Travis Darnaud

Bullpen

Edwin Diaz / Jeruys Familia / Seth Lugo / Robert Gesellman / Justin Wilson / Luis Avilan / Tyler Bashlor


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